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The Backstreet Boys and Me

Some people are ashamed of digging unpopular music and try to hide preferences from friends. Not me! No such thing as a guilty pleasure, yo, I absolutely adore the BACKSTREET BOYS!

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by Andy Allison, for outsideleft.com
originally published: July, 2006
On the real, kids, it's time for you to listen to "Get Another Boyfriend" about ten times in a row, and I'm about to do the same!
by Andy Allison, for outsideleft.com
originally published: July, 2006
On the real, kids, it's time for you to listen to "Get Another Boyfriend" about ten times in a row, and I'm about to do the same!

So dig it, I'm thinking it's time for a reassessment of the mighty BSB. Hell yeah, playa! Backstreet's responsible for some of the finest pop singles ever fucking recorded. Yes, yes, I'm entirely serious. Have you ever listened to their stuff in earnest? Like, really turned your stereo way the fuck up when "As Long As You Love Me" came on? I'm saying you should!

Now, I'm in my thirties and come from a strong hip-hop and R&B foundation. Back in the 1990s, I listened to little else; lots of Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Janet Jackson and New Jack Swing. After hearing the BSB for the first time in 1998, I fell for them completely and realized that they were the natural extension of NJS. No doubt! The choreography, the syncopated handclap smacks of the drum machines, there are so many parallels, man. True believers should recognize and cue up Millennium, one of the best goddamn pop albums you'll ever hear.

Aside from the widespread neglect since their 1999 heyday, this is also a good time to reevaluate the BSB because they're in danger of becoming a kitschy footnote. Ack! For heaven's sake! With the advent of Napoleon Dynamite's "Larger Than Life" scene and those two (amusing) Chinese kids lip-syncing "I Want It That Way" all over YouTube, the Backstreet Boys are poised to become the next laughingstock, a pass?© fad, Milli Vanilli incarnate. Crying shame, let me tell you.

Way before America took notice, masterful Swedish producer Max Martin and his trusty co-producer Dennis PoP (R.I.P.) were cold fucking up European dance floors with all kinds of fly BSB jams. Ever heard "Boys Will Be Boys" from the doomed Shaquille O'Neal vehicle Kazaam? Probably not. Well Jesus Christ, fool, get to downloading that crazy musical behemoth and let it be the soundtrack to the rest of this article! You're about to become a major league fan, G.

Let me get down on some BSB knowledge and show you why their music should be ruling your airwaves. A bit of advice, for your own good, just skip the goopy ballads and head right for the dance stuff. As an example, let's explore the incredible track "Get Another Boyfriend," from 2000's relatively unheralded album Black and Blue. Nice guys that they are, The Boys are trying to warn a galpal that her manfriend is a fucking putz. The song starts off okay, nice little stutter-step Rodney Jerkins sound-alike, not too bad, kind of catchy. Inane verses pass the time pleasantly.

Oh, but then the chorus rolls in like a fucking monster battery acid tidal wave, jack! That's where the real fireworks come in-- Swedes are fucking bananas for a catchy refrain. Like many Swedish-penned songs, the lyrics are delightfully wonky:

Listen, I mean it
There's nothing that he's worthy of
He's just another player
Playing in the name of love

Whoa! Something mysterious happens to the listener during that chorus, for real. Max Martin and his cohort Rami amp up the pop factor and knock a motherfucker to the ground. No kidding! Even better, check out the bridge at the 2:06 mark, dun. Chills, people, chills! BSB sing one of those soaring Europop melodies chemically designed to steamroll any piddly Top 40 wannabe in its path. On the real, kids, it's time for you to listen to "Get Another Boyfriend" about ten times in a row, and I'm about to do the same!

See, the borderline moronic lyrics aren't the point. If I want to get all cerebral, I'll buy a fucking Bob Dylan record and bang my head against a wall. No way, dig, I'm all about the MUSIC, the CATCHINESS, the SONGWRITING. Give me a pile of hooks, some big fat choruses and those super-sleek production techniques, word life, and you'll see one endlessly happy Andy A! I could give a goddamn about a Tiger Beat cover, you know? This is top notch pop music, built for mass consumption and longevity. Sweet sugar for the stickiest, tastiest house around, shonuff, best believe.

BSB's still putting out records today, but those old school, turn-of-the-millennium albums are where it's at. My Russian pal Ilya recently led a crowd of 400 German teens in a verse and chorus of "I Want It That Way," and every last hipster motherfucker in the joint knew all the words and shouted along gleefully. That's some fucking societal power, I say! Wars will end and walls will fall when we all start to rock those silly Backstreet robot dances in perfect harmony.

Nick, AJ, Brian, Kevin and Howie are about to show you the shapes of their motherfucking BSB hearts, and folks better get to paying attention, here they come, rock the fucking bells!

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